The week at a glance...Americas
Khadr not extradited: The Canadian Supreme Court has blocked the extradition to the U.S. of Abdullah Khadr, a Canadian accused of supplying al Qaida with weapons. Khadr is the brother of Omar Khadr, the youngest detainee in Guantánamo, and the son of Ahmed Khadr, an Osama bin Laden associate killed in Pakistan in 2003. The CIA paid Pakistani authorities $500,000 to abduct Abdullah Khadr in 2004 in Pakistan, where he said he was held for 14 months and tortured. Last year, a Canadian court ruled against his extradition, citing the “gross misconduct” of U.S. authorities in allowing him to be mistreated. The top court last week declined to hear an appeal of that ruling, and Khadr is now free in Canada.
Military leader: Guatemalans have chosen a retired military general as their new president. Otto Pérez Molina coasted to an easy victory in elections this week with his pledge to use an “iron fist” against the drug gangs that have overrun the country. It’s a tough task: Guatemalan police and courts are notoriously corrupt, and despite a murder rate eight times that of the U.S., only 2 percent of violent crimes even get prosecuted. Some Latin American observers are concerned about Pérez’s plan to deploy army units against the gangs, given the country’s history of military coups. Pérez, an ex-chief of military intelligence and a graduate of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., has been accused of human-rights abuses stemming from Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, charges he denies.
Familiar face: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega won re-election this week in a landslide, despite laws that formally prevent him from a further term. Nicaragua’s constitution forbids anyone to serve three terms in total or to serve consecutive terms; Ortega, 66, is now doing both. He first became leader in 1979, when his Sandinista revolutionaries toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza, and was elected president in 1985 and again in 2006, which should have precluded him from running. But the Supreme Court, dominated by Sandinista judges, ruled that not allowing him to run would violate his human rights. In his last term, Ortega grew popular by using aid money from Venezuela to give out free chickens and cows to the poor.
La Paz, Bolivia
Friends again: Bolivia and the U.S. have restored full diplomatic relations, three years after cutting them off in a dispute over U.S. anti-drug efforts. In a joint statement this week, the two governments said they would “pursue relations on the basis of mutual respect and shared responsibility.” President Evo Morales kicked out the U.S. ambassador and drug agents in 2008, accusing them of “conspiring against democracy” by backing separatists. Morales, a former head of the coca-growers’ union, had always had a prickly relationship with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and he said he still would not allow U.S. agents back into the country. Bolivia is the world’s third-largest producer of cocaine.